Audiophiles Have Been a Bit Sidelined until Now: Non-mainstream Online Music Listening Services
Streaming services, in the beginning, didn’t have audiophiles as a target group of users, so they didn’t bother too much with the quality of the music. At least not in that sense.
Google Play Music/YouTube Music and Spotify have a maximum bitrate of 320 Kbps, while Apple Music only had 256 Kbps. Today, Apple Music also offers high-quality music, but it’s not the most popular service on the market.
Although the mentioned numbers sound good enough – they aren’t. In other words, they are good enough for the majority of the population because most users don’t care too much about the quality of music via these services. If the song has no distractions, it is good enough for most people.
On the other hand, if you compare those numbers with, for example, CDs that gave 1,411 Kbps – it’s not exactly ideal. The quality of the sound itself can be better on popular streaming services.
If you consider yourself an audiophiles, and if you have good audio equipment and want to listen to music of good quality, then you have a problem.
In that case, you have to use some services that may not be “mainstream”. Below is a list of services that may be of interest to you.
Tidal is currently the most famous music streaming service that offers high-quality music.
The musician Jay-Z (who currently owns 20% of Tidal) was behind this service, and the entire reputation of the service is built on high-quality audio.
Tidal offers users two different subscription plans. The premium plan costs $9.99 per month and provides a music transfer speed of 320 Kbps.
If you’re an audiophiles, then the Hi-Fi plan is much more interesting for you. It offers lossless CD-quality music at 1411 Kbps for a monthly fee of $19.99. Both packages have family packages available.
Maybe Tidal doesn’t have the same appeal that Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Spotify have, but don’t worry.
At the time of writing, Tidal had about 60 million songs in its catalog. If you don’t listen to some obscure music, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to listen to on Tidal.
We’ll just note that of those 60 million songs, not all are available in “audiophiles” quality.
Qobuz, along with Tidal, is one of the leading audiophiles streaming services. The headquarters of this service is in France, and the company was started by entrepreneur Yves Riesel in 2007.
In addition to music streaming services, it also offers music downloads.
Unfortunately, the application doesn’t have the international reach of the competitors we mention in the article.
While Tidal is currently available in 54 countries around the world, Qobuz operates in only 12: the US, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and Austria.
Or if you have a VPN, from anywhere in the world, you just have to “adapt”, the same as you’d adapt to playing spins on Puerto Rican casino sites restricted in your country.
Today, Qobuz has the largest catalog of lossless music and high-resolution albums in the world. Their library, which includes 50 million songs, has new album releases coming to the market and special genres that you will not find on other services.
Two subscription plans are available, Studio Premier ($15 per month) and Sublime+ ($250 per year). Sound quality is the same on both plans, but Sublime+ makes it cheaper to buy (and download) music.
If you live outside the countries supported by Qobuz but don’t want to subscribe to Tidal, Deezer might be just what you’re looking for.
While Deezer isn’t known as an HD audio music streaming app, Deezer Hi-Fi offers 16-bit, 1,411 Kbps FLAC audio for $20 a month.
For comparison, the “ordinary” Premium plan offers music at 320 Kbps, and the free one only at 128 Kbps.
The Lossless plan was originally introduced in 2014 thanks to the company’s partnership with Sonos.
At the time, Deezer was only available on Sonos speakers. Today, however, the Hi-Fi subscription works with most smart speakers, including Google Home devices, Bang & Olufsen, Sony, and Harman Kardon.
Amazon Music HD
Amazon Music HD is one of the newest audiophiles music streaming services on the market, and it arrived in the second half of 2019.
More than 60 million HD songs are available on the platform. Approximately 50 million of these are in 850 Kbps and 16-bit/44.1 kHz, and an additional 10 million are available in 3,730 Kbps and 24-bit/192 kHz.
This is more than 10 times better compared to the quality of most competing applications and services.
Before you register for this service, please check if your device supports 24-bit songs. If you own an Android or iOS gadget older than 2015, you’re probably out of luck.
However, we believe that they are in the minority. On the other hand, all Amazon’s Fire devices are supported.
A subscription to Amazon Music HD costs $15 per month (or $13 per month if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber).
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